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The last volunteer

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The last volunteer

Active Hose 4 member says he can’t respond to calls in city

Submitted Photo Captain John Skelly of Murray Hose Four dressed in his fire gear. Skelly has been recommended to join a Dunkirk town fire department because he is the last volunteer in his department.
John Skelly, the only remaining active volunteer firefighter left in the city of Dunkirk is the current captain of Murray Hose 4 and claims that he feels that volunteer firefighters are being “pushed out” citywide.
“My father, my grandfather, all of my uncles were volunteer firemen and I think I should be allowed to stay on as a member here,” Skelly told the OBSERVER in an interview. “I love the city of Dunkirk and should have a right to stay in the city.”
Skelly is claiming that he has been told by the city fire department that he can’t respond to calls anymore and has also been told that perhaps he should move on to one of the town fire departments.
“I’m disappointed,” Skelly said. “Some of the firefighters are happy because I’m there and they tell me ‘if you hadn’t been here, we’d be behind.’ All of those guys started out as volunteers before they became paid.”
Skelly shared that he has a list of other younger men that want to become volunteers as well, but that every time they approach the city department, they’re allegedly told to look at east or west town of Dunkirk instead. He also added that he can’t get his mandatory training done as he’s only one guy and they won’t do a class for a single individual.
“I never said he can’t respond,” Dunkirk Fire Chief Mike Edwards told the OBSERVER. “Right now, Murray Hose is the only active volunteer group left in the city. All of the others dissolved due to lack of membership.”
Edwards went on to say that he has the utmost respect for Skelly’s service to the area. “I come from volunteers and it has been a 25 year struggle to save the volunteer organization in the city,” Edwards shared. “He has been an active volunteer member for several years and continues to respond to alarms.”
When asked of the status of volunteers in the area Edwards had this to say: “When I came on as chief, I tried to reorganize a broken system, but no matter what I tried to drive interest, it just failed. It’s hard to have a volunteer side with one member. The status of the volunteer companies in the city has been in steady decline. Over time, four of the five volunteer fire companies have become inactive. Three companies have disbanded with only one remaining active and that being primarily as a social organization. The primary reason for the decline of the volunteer companies was the lack of members. This is not just a local problem as many of the volunteer fire organizations throughout our nation, state and county are struggling to maintain as organizations and the ability to have enough members to answers calls.”
Edwards went on to share that there have been many efforts in the city to bolster the ranks of the volunteers including an explorer post, community recruitment drives and school programs aimed at attracting students. He even stated that there was once an attempt to consolidate the five volunteer companies into one single Dunkirk volunteer fire company to better organize the volunteer ranks; according to him this attempt was rejected at the time by a majority of the fire companies.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Skelly is caught in the situation of being the last member in a fire company that is no longer active in firefighting,” Edwards added. “It makes it nearly impossible to maintain the training standards required to respond as a first responder. Every once in a very great while, I’ll get a request to join from a potential volunteer and in those situations I share the state of the volunteers in the city with them and give them options. I’ll tell them to either join Murray Hose or one of the town of Dunkirk groups,” Edwards explained. “I also make them aware that they have to have their minimum training standards up to date and can do so by connecting with the Office of Fire Protection and Control.”
Chief Edwards wants to assure the public however that the department has adapted to the lack of volunteer members and has and will continue to respond to emergencies in the community in an efficient and professional manner.


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Active Hose 4 member says he can’t respond to calls in city

Submitted Photo Captain John Skelly of Murray Hose Four dressed in his fire gear. Skelly has been recommended to join a Dunkirk town fire department because he is the last volunteer in his department.
John Skelly, the only remaining active volunteer firefighter left in the city of Dunkirk is the current captain of Murray Hose 4 and claims that he feels that volunteer firefighters are being “pushed out” citywide.
“My father, my grandfather, all of my uncles were volunteer firemen and I think I should be allowed to stay on as a member here,” Skelly told the OBSERVER in an interview. “I love the city of Dunkirk and should have a right to stay in the city.”
Skelly is claiming that he has been told by the city fire department that he can’t respond to calls anymore and has also been told that perhaps he should move on to one of the town fire departments.
“I’m disappointed,” Skelly said. “Some of the firefighters are happy because I’m there and they tell me ‘if you hadn’t been here, we’d be behind.’ All of those guys started out as volunteers before they became paid.”
Skelly shared that he has a list of other younger men that want to become volunteers as well, but that every time they approach the city department, they’re allegedly told to look at east or west town of Dunkirk instead. He also added that he can’t get his mandatory training done as he’s only one guy and they won’t do a class for a single individual.
“I never said he can’t respond,” Dunkirk Fire Chief Mike Edwards told the OBSERVER. “Right now, Murray Hose is the only active volunteer group left in the city. All of the others dissolved due to lack of membership.”
Edwards went on to say that he has the utmost respect for Skelly’s service to the area. “I come from volunteers and it has been a 25 year struggle to save the volunteer organization in the city,” Edwards shared. “He has been an active volunteer member for several years and continues to respond to alarms.”
When asked of the status of volunteers in the area Edwards had this to say: “When I came on as chief, I tried to reorganize a broken system, but no matter what I tried to drive interest, it just failed. It’s hard to have a volunteer side with one member. The status of the volunteer companies in the city has been in steady decline. Over time, four of the five volunteer fire companies have become inactive. Three companies have disbanded with only one remaining active and that being primarily as a social organization. The primary reason for the decline of the volunteer companies was the lack of members. This is not just a local problem as many of the volunteer fire organizations throughout our nation, state and county are struggling to maintain as organizations and the ability to have enough members to answers calls.”
Edwards went on to share that there have been many efforts in the city to bolster the ranks of the volunteers including an explorer post, community recruitment drives and school programs aimed at attracting students. He even stated that there was once an attempt to consolidate the five volunteer companies into one single Dunkirk volunteer fire company to better organize the volunteer ranks; according to him this attempt was rejected at the time by a majority of the fire companies.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Skelly is caught in the situation of being the last member in a fire company that is no longer active in firefighting,” Edwards added. “It makes it nearly impossible to maintain the training standards required to respond as a first responder. Every once in a very great while, I’ll get a request to join from a potential volunteer and in those situations I share the state of the volunteers in the city with them and give them options. I’ll tell them to either join Murray Hose or one of the town of Dunkirk groups,” Edwards explained. “I also make them aware that they have to have their minimum training standards up to date and can do so by connecting with the Office of Fire Protection and Control.”
Chief Edwards wants to assure the public however that the department has adapted to the lack of volunteer members and has and will continue to respond to emergencies in the community in an efficient and professional manner.
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